Climbing Holds: Your Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Climbing Pro!

1. Introduction to Climbing Holds

Hey there, fellow climbing enthusiast! If you’re as passionate about scaling walls and rocks as I am, you know that climbing holds are the unsung heroes of our adventures. These little grips, nubs, and edges are what make climbing possible, offering us the means to challenge gravity and push our limits. In this guide, we’ll delve into the various types of climbing holds, how to use each one effectively, and how to maintain them for optimal performance.

2. Types of Climbing Holds

Climbing holds come in all shapes and sizes, each designed to test different aspects of your strength and technique. Understanding the various types of climbing holds and how to use them effectively is essential for improving your climbing skills and performance. Let’s explore the main types and how to master them.


What are Jugs?

Jugs are the bread and butter of climbing holds. They’re large, easy-to-grip holds that are perfect for beginners or for those times when you need a good rest on a challenging route. Think of them as the handrails of the climbing world – sturdy, reliable, and confidence-boosting.

How to Use Jugs

Jugs are large, easy-to-grip holds that provide a secure and comfortable handhold, making them ideal for beginners and rest points on more challenging routes. Here’s how to effectively use jugs:

  • Full Hand Grip: Wrap your entire hand around the jug, ensuring your fingers and thumb have a firm grip. The large surface area of jugs allows for a complete handhold, reducing the strain on individual fingers.
  • Engage Your Core: Use your core muscles to maintain balance and stability. By engaging your core, you reduce the reliance on your arms and hands, conserving energy.
  • Feet Placement: Ensure your feet are positioned securely on footholds to help distribute your weight evenly. Proper foot placement can alleviate the pressure on your hands and make it easier to move up.
  • Rest and Plan: Use jugs as rest points during your climb. Take a moment to shake out your arms, catch your breath, and plan your next moves. This is especially useful on longer routes where endurance is key.


What are Crimps?

Crimps are small edges that require a strong grip and precise finger placement. They’re typically used on more challenging routes where every bit of strength counts. Crimps test your finger strength and tendon resilience, making them a staple in any advanced climber’s repertoire.

How to Use Crimps

Crimps are small edges that require precise finger placement and significant finger strength. Using crimps effectively involves careful technique to avoid injury:

  • Fingertip Placement: Place your fingertips on the edge of the crimp. Ensure that your fingers are securely positioned to maximize contact and grip.
  • Curl Your Fingers: Curl your fingers and engage the tendons in your hands. This position, known as a “closed crimp,” provides maximum grip strength but should be used cautiously to prevent tendon strain.
  • Open Hand Crimp: For a less strenuous option, use an “open hand crimp” where your fingers are slightly bent but not fully curled. This technique is less taxing on your tendons and can be safer for prolonged use.
  • Body Position: Keep your body close to the wall to maintain balance. Use your legs to push up and reduce the load on your fingers.
  • Avoid Over-Gripping: Do not over-grip crimps, as this can lead to injury. Focus on using just enough force to maintain your hold and move efficiently.

Using crimps effectively is crucial for advanced climbing techniques and improving your overall grip strength.


What are Slopers?

Slopers are rounded holds that rely on friction rather than finger strength. They can be tricky to master but are excellent for improving your open-hand strength and balance. Slopers challenge your ability to maintain tension and body positioning, making them a valuable training tool.

Slopers are rounded holds that rely on friction and open-hand strength. Mastering slopers requires a balance of technique and body positioning:

  • Maximize Surface Contact: Spread your fingers wide and press your hand flat against the sloper to maximize the surface area in contact with the hold. This increases friction and grip.
  • Engage Your Palms: Use your palms in addition to your fingers to generate more friction and control.
  • Body Position: Keep your body close to the wall and use your core muscles to maintain balance. Leaning into the wall can help you stay stable on slopers.
  • Move Smoothly: Make slow, controlled movements to avoid slipping. Quick or jerky movements can cause you to lose grip on slopers.
  • Footwork: Good footwork is crucial when using slopers. Ensure your feet are securely placed to help distribute your weight and provide stability.

Mastering slopers is all about balance and friction, making them a unique challenge in the world of climbing holds.


What are Pinches?

Pinches are holds that you grip by squeezing them between your thumb and fingers. They can vary in size and shape, offering unique challenges. Pinches test your grip strength and finger dexterity, making them essential for developing a strong, versatile grip.

Pinches require you to squeeze the hold between your thumb and fingers. This technique tests your grip strength and finger dexterity:

  • Thumb Engagement: Place your thumb on one side of the hold and your fingers on the opposite side. Apply equal pressure with both to secure your grip.
  • Full Hand Involvement: Use your entire hand to generate the necessary force, not just your fingers. Engage the muscles in your hand and forearm.
  • Body Position: Keep your body close to the wall and use your legs to push up, reducing the load on your hands.
  • Controlled Movements: Move deliberately and avoid sudden shifts that could cause you to lose grip.
  • Practice Squeezing: Regularly train your pinch strength by practicing on various pinch holds and incorporating pinch exercises into your training routine.

Pinches are fantastic for building grip strength and finger dexterity, essential for advanced climbing.


What are Pockets?

Pockets are holds with small openings, designed to fit one, two, or three fingers. They require precision and finger strength to use effectively. Pockets challenge your ability to use finger strength and precise movements, making them ideal for technical climbing routes.

How to Use Pockets

Pockets are holds with small openings designed to fit one, two, or three fingers. Using pockets requires precision and finger strength:

  • Finger Insertion: Carefully insert the appropriate number of fingers into the pocket. Ensure that your fingers are securely positioned without cramming them in.
  • Maintain a Steady Grip: Hold steady and avoid sudden movements that could strain your fingers. Be mindful of how much force you’re applying.
  • Avoid Overstretching: Do not overstretch your fingers when using pockets. This can lead to tendon injuries.
  • Body Position: Keep your body close to the wall and use your legs to help with upward movement, minimizing the strain on your fingers.
  • Finger Strength Training: Incorporate specific finger strength exercises into your training, such as using fingerboards or hangboards with pocket holds.

Using pockets effectively requires precision and finger strength, essential skills for technical climbing routes.

3. Materials and Texture of Climbing Holds

Materials and Texture of Climbing Holds

Climbing holds are made from various materials, each offering different textures and durability. The material of a climbing hold significantly influences its feel, durability, and how it interacts with climbers’ hands. Let’s delve into the common materials used for climbing holds and their unique characteristics.

Polyurethane Holds

Characteristics of Polyurethane Holds

Polyurethane holds are a popular choice in the climbing community due to their lightweight and durable nature. This material is incredibly versatile, allowing manufacturers to create a wide range of shapes and textures. Here are some key points about polyurethane holds:

  • Durability: Polyurethane is resistant to chipping and cracking, making these holds long-lasting.
  • Variety: They come in various shapes and textures, providing climbers with different challenges and grip options.
  • Weight: Lightweight nature makes them easy to handle and install.

Advantages of Polyurethane Holds

Polyurethane holds offer several benefits that make them ideal for both indoor and outdoor climbing:

  • Customization: The material allows for intricate designs and textures, enhancing the climbing experience.
  • Durability: Their resistance to wear and tear ensures they remain in good condition even with heavy use.
  • Safety: The lightweight feature reduces the risk of injury if a hold were to detach.

Polyester Holds

Characteristics of Polyester Holds

Polyester holds are another popular choice, known for their robustness and grip. They are slightly heavier than polyurethane holds but offer excellent durability and a rougher texture, which can be advantageous in certain climbing scenarios. Key features include:

  • Durability: High resistance to wear and tear, suitable for high-traffic climbing gyms.
  • Texture: Rougher surface provides excellent grip, especially useful for challenging routes.
  • Weight: Heavier than polyurethane, which can offer a different feel during climbs.

Advantages of Polyester Holds

Polyester holds have their own set of benefits:

  • Grip: The rough texture enhances grip, crucial for maintaining hold on difficult climbs.
  • Longevity: Their durability ensures a long lifespan, even in the busiest climbing environments.
  • Stability: Heavier weight can provide a more stable feel on the wall, preferred by some climbers.

Wood Holds

Characteristics of Wood Holds

Wood holds are less common but offer a unique climbing experience. They are typically used in training settings to improve finger strength and technique due to their smooth texture and challenging grip. Important aspects of wood holds include:

  • Smooth Texture: Unlike polyurethane and polyester, wood holds have a smoother surface, requiring more finger strength and precision.
  • Natural Feel: The organic material provides a different tactile experience, often preferred by purists.
  • Durability: While not as durable as synthetic materials, well-maintained wood holds can last a long time.

Advantages of Wood Holds

Wood holds offer distinct advantages that make them valuable in specific training contexts:

  • Finger Strength: The smooth texture challenges climbers to rely more on finger strength, enhancing muscle development.
  • Technique Improvement: They encourage precise hand placement and improved technique.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Wood holds have a natural and aesthetically pleasing appearance, adding to the visual appeal of training setups.

Comparing Different Materials

When choosing climbing holds, understanding the differences between materials can help you make an informed decision based on your climbing needs and preferences. Here’s a quick comparison:

  • Polyurethane vs. Polyester: Polyurethane holds are lighter and offer a wider variety of shapes and textures, while polyester holds provide better grip and durability.
  • Synthetic vs. Natural: Synthetic holds (polyurethane and polyester) offer more design versatility and durability, whereas wood holds provide a natural feel and are excellent for specific training purposes.

4. Choosing the Right Holds for Your Climbing Style

Selecting the right climbing holds is essential for maximizing your climbing performance and enjoyment. The appropriate holds can vary significantly depending on whether you’re climbing indoors or outdoors and what specific training goals you have. Understanding how to choose the right holds for your climbing style can help you progress more effectively and avoid injury.

Indoor Climbing

Creating Dynamic and Challenging Routes

Indoor climbing provides the opportunity to design routes with a variety of holds, allowing climbers to practice different techniques and develop well-rounded skills. When selecting holds for indoor climbing, consider the following:

  • Variety of Holds: Incorporate a mix of jugs, crimps, slopers, and pinches to create dynamic routes that challenge different aspects of your climbing ability.
  • Route Difficulty: Use smaller, more challenging holds like crimps and slopers on advanced routes, while larger holds like jugs can be used on beginner routes.
  • Training Focus: Tailor the holds to focus on specific training goals, such as endurance, strength, or technique.

For example, a route designed to improve endurance might feature a series of jugs spaced out to allow for continuous movement, while a strength-focused route might incorporate crimps and pinches that require powerful, precise grip.

Outdoor Climbing

Adapting to Natural Rock Formations

When climbing outdoors, the natural rock formations dictate the types of holds you’ll encounter. Different rock types offer distinct challenges and opportunities:

  • Granite: Granite surfaces often provide crimps and pinches. These holds require strong finger strength and precise placement. Practicing on artificial crimps and pinches indoors can prepare you for granite climbing.
  • Sandstone: Sandstone is known for its variety of pockets and slopers. Climbing on sandstone can be tricky due to the smooth, rounded nature of slopers and the precise finger positioning required for pockets.
  • Limestone: Limestone formations frequently feature pockets and edges. These holds can be deep and challenging, requiring good finger strength and endurance.

Understanding the characteristics of the rock type you’re climbing on helps you select the appropriate holds and develop the necessary skills for outdoor climbing.

Training and Technique Development

Targeting Different Muscle Groups

Effective climbing training involves using a combination of hold types to target various muscle groups and improve overall strength and technique. Training tools like fingerboards and hangboards can be incredibly beneficial:

  • Fingerboards: Fingerboards feature a variety of hold types, including crimps, slopers, and pockets. They are excellent for building finger strength and improving grip technique. Regularly training on a fingerboard can significantly enhance your climbing performance.
  • Hangboards: Hangboards are similar to fingerboards but often include more extensive hold options. They are used for specific strength training exercises, such as dead hangs and pull-ups, which target upper body and grip strength.

Incorporating Different Holds into Training

Here are some tips for incorporating different climbing holds into your training routine:

  • Warm-Up: Start with larger holds like jugs to warm up your fingers and muscles. This reduces the risk of injury when moving to smaller, more challenging holds.
  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the difficulty by incorporating smaller holds like crimps and pockets as you build strength and endurance.
  • Technique Drills: Use slopers and pinches to practice specific techniques, such as open-hand gripping and pinch strength. Focus on maintaining good form and body positioning.
  • Rest and Recovery: Allow adequate rest between training sessions to prevent overuse injuries. Incorporate rest days and recovery exercises, such as stretching and finger massages.

5. Product Reviews: Climbing Holds

Tips for Maintaining and Cleaning Climbing Holds

TWO STONES Wooden Rock Climbing Holds

The TWO STONES Wooden Rock Climbing Holds set is designed for both kids and adults, offering a variety of shapes and sizes to enhance the climbing experience. Made from solid beech wood, these holds are marketed towards professional climbers seeking durable and safe equipment for indoor climbing walls.


  • Durable Construction: Made from solid beech wood, these holds are designed for high hardness and longevity.
  • Variety of Shapes: Includes jugs, crimps, edges, pinches, and slopers, catering to different climbing techniques.
  • Safety: Equipped with high-quality metal screws to ensure secure installation and safety.
  • Easy Installation: Screw-on design makes setting up a DIY climbing wall straightforward.
  • Satisfaction Guarantee: The company offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, promising refunds or exchanges if there are any issues.


  • Limited Customer Reviews: With only 34 ratings, it’s harder to gauge consistent quality and performance.
  • Higher Price Point: At $49.99, it’s more expensive than some other options, especially considering additional shipping costs.
  • Specific Use Case: Primarily targeted at professional climbers, which may not be ideal for casual or beginner climbers.

PR Crimps by Nicros

The PR Crimps set by Nicros is part of the Signature Series, shaped by Paul Robinson. These holds are designed for intermediate climbers and feature a polyurethane construction, making them durable and suitable for various wall angles, including vertical and steep.


  • High Durability: Made from polyurethane, which is resistant to wear and tear.
  • Signature Design: Shaped by professional climber Paul Robinson, ensuring ergonomic and challenging designs.
  • Included Hardware: Comes with socket head cap screw bolts for secure installation.
  • Variety in Crimps: Offers a range of widths to accommodate all fingers, enhancing grip training.
  • Made in the USA: Ensures high manufacturing standards and quality control.


  • Price: At $53.45, it is a significant investment, especially when factoring in shipping costs.
  • Limited Quantity: The set includes only 10 holds, which might not be sufficient for larger climbing walls.
  • Specific Use: Designed specifically for intermediate climbers, which may not be suitable for beginners.

Atomik Climbing Set of 10 Medium Screw-On Basic Jugs

The Atomik Climbing Set features 10 medium screw-on jugs made from non-toxic polyurethane resin. Known for their comfort and natural rock-like texture, these holds are designed to cater to homewall climbers looking for durable and effective training tools.


  • Comfortable Texture: The skin-friendly texture mimics natural rock, making it comfortable for long training sessions.
  • High Durability: Made from premium-grade non-toxic polyurethane resin, ensuring longevity.
  • Easy Installation: Comes with wood screws for quick and secure mounting.
  • Good Size: Average size of 3-3/4″ wide x 3″ tall x 1-3/4″ off the wall, providing a comfortable grip.
  • Made in the USA: Ensures high-quality manufacturing and supports local businesses.
  • Great for Homewalls: Recognized for its appeal to homewall climbers due to affordability and variety.


  • Higher Price Point: At $100.00, it is on the higher end for climbing holds, especially with additional shipping costs.
  • Color Variation: Colors may vary slightly from images, which could be a minor aesthetic concern.
  • Limited to Jugs: This set focuses solely on jugs, which might not be ideal for those seeking a variety of hold types.

6. Tips for Maintaining and Cleaning Climbing Holds

Proper maintenance and cleaning of your climbing holds are essential to ensure they remain safe, effective, and long-lasting. Whether you’re managing a home climbing wall or maintaining a commercial climbing gym, following these tips will help you keep your climbing holds in top condition.

Regular Cleaning

Brushing Off Chalk and Dirt

Over time, climbing holds accumulate chalk, dirt, and grime, which can reduce their grip and effectiveness. Regular cleaning with a brush is crucial to maintain their performance:

  • Use a Soft Brush: A soft-bristled brush, such as a toothbrush or a specialized climbing brush, is ideal for cleaning holds. It effectively removes chalk and dirt without damaging the surface.
  • Gentle Scrubbing: Gently scrub the holds in circular motions to dislodge and remove buildup. Focus on the areas where chalk and dirt are most concentrated, such as the tops and sides of the holds.
  • Frequency: For high-traffic areas or frequently used holds, aim to brush them off weekly. Less frequently used holds can be cleaned monthly.

Regular brushing helps maintain the texture and friction of the holds, ensuring they provide a secure grip.

Deep Cleaning

Washing Holds

Occasionally, climbing holds may require a more thorough cleaning to remove stubborn grime and restore their original texture. Here’s how to deep clean your holds:

  • Remove the Holds: Carefully unscrew and remove the holds from the climbing wall. This step is essential for a thorough cleaning and to prevent damage to the wall.
  • Soak in Warm Soapy Water: Fill a bucket with warm water and add a mild dish soap. Submerge the holds in the soapy water and let them soak for 20-30 minutes to loosen dirt and grime.
  • Scrub and Rinse: After soaking, use a brush to scrub the holds, paying close attention to textured areas. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all soap residue.
  • Dry Completely: Allow the holds to air dry completely before reattaching them to the wall. Drying can take several hours to overnight, depending on the hold material and size.

Deep cleaning restores the grip and texture of the holds, enhancing your climbing experience.

Inspecting for Wear and Tear

Regular Inspections

Regularly inspecting your climbing holds for signs of wear and tear is crucial for safety and performance. Damaged holds can pose a risk of injury and should be addressed promptly:

  • Visual Inspection: Look for cracks, chips, or other visible damage. Pay particular attention to high-stress areas and holds frequently used on difficult routes.
  • Touch Test: Feel for any rough or sharp edges that could cause injury or reduce grip.
  • Structural Integrity: Check that the holds are securely fastened to the wall. Loose or wobbly holds can be dangerous and should be tightened or replaced.

Replacing Damaged Holds

If you find any holds that are significantly worn or damaged, it’s essential to replace them to maintain a safe climbing environment:

  • Identify Replacement Needs: Make a note of holds that need replacing and their specific types and sizes.
  • Source New Holds: Purchase replacement holds from reputable suppliers to ensure they meet safety standards.
  • Installation: Carefully install the new holds, ensuring they are securely fastened and properly aligned with the climbing route.

Replacing damaged holds maintains the safety and integrity of your climbing wall, preventing accidents and injuries.

Avoiding Harsh Chemicals

Choosing Safe Cleaning Products

Using harsh chemicals can degrade the material of climbing holds, reducing their lifespan and effectiveness. Here are some guidelines for choosing safe cleaning products:

  • Mild Detergents: Opt for mild dish soap or eco-friendly detergents that are gentle on the holds and effective at cleaning.
  • Avoid Solvents: Steer clear of solvents, bleach, and other harsh chemicals that can erode the material and compromise the hold’s texture and grip.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: Always rinse holds thoroughly after cleaning to remove any soap or detergent residue that could affect grip.

By choosing the right cleaning products, you can keep your climbing holds in excellent condition without causing damage.

Best Practices for Hold Maintenance

Regular Maintenance Routine

Establishing a regular maintenance routine for your climbing holds helps ensure they remain safe and effective:

  • Scheduled Cleaning: Set a cleaning schedule based on the usage frequency of your climbing wall. More frequent cleaning may be necessary for commercial gyms or heavily used home walls.
  • Routine Inspections: Incorporate regular inspections into your maintenance routine to catch any wear and tear early.
  • User Education: Educate climbers on the importance of maintaining clean holds and encourage them to use chalk sparingly to reduce buildup.

Record Keeping

Keep a maintenance log to track cleaning, inspections, and replacements. This record helps you stay on top of maintenance tasks and ensures all holds are regularly checked and maintained.

7. Conclusion

Climbing holds are essential for any climber, providing the tools needed to scale walls and push personal limits. By understanding the different types and how to use them effectively, you can enhance your climbing experience and improve your skills.

8. FAQs

  1. How often should I clean my climbing holds?
    It’s best to clean your holds every few months or whenever they appear chalky and dirty. Regular cleaning ensures optimal grip and longevity.
  2. Can I use outdoor climbing holds indoors?
    Yes, many climbing holds are versatile and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Just ensure they are properly secured to the wall.
  3. What type of hold is best for beginners?
    Jugs are ideal for beginners due to their large size and easy grip, allowing new climbers to build confidence and strength.
  4. How can I prevent finger injuries when using crimps?
    To prevent injuries, warm up thoroughly before climbing, use proper technique, and avoid over-gripping. Listen to your body and rest if you feel any strain.
  5. Are wood holds suitable for all climbers?
    Wood holds are great for training and improving finger strength but can be challenging for beginners due to their smooth texture. They are best suited for more experienced climbers looking to enhance their skills.


Zoe putter

Zoe Putter

Hi, I'm Zoe Putter. Climbing isn't just my hobby; it's my passion. From the Rockies to local bouldering challenges, every ascent has been an adventure.I've traveled, learned, and met amazing fellow climbers. Through this site, I share my experiences and insights. Whether you're a beginner or seasoned climber, I hope to inspire and guide you. Keep reaching for the top!

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